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Obituary: bookseller and radical activist Jon Carpenter


PUBLISHER, bookseller, environmentalist and community activist Jon Carpenter will be remembered for his radical and alternative bookstore – EOA Books on Cowley Road.

More recently, Mr. Carpenter was known for his Evenlode Books business in Charlbury, as well as for his involvement in the Charlbury Refugee Action Group and Extinction Rebellion.

Jonathan Carpenter, born May 2, 1944, was the only child of William and Kathleen, and grew up in Banstead, Surrey. He came to Oxford to study modern languages ​​at St John’s College in the mid-1960s. This was followed by a temporary excursion into theology at Ripon Hall on Boar’s Hill.

Mr. Carpenter had a daughter, Ele, with Di Macdonald in 1971. In 1974 he married Jenny Linsdell; they had a son, Ben, in 1975, and were together for 10 years.

From his home on Magdalen Road, Mr Carpenter started a free community newspaper, the East Oxford Advertiser, which was distributed to 3,000 homes in East Oxford.

Inside were articles, information on social benefits, demonstrations and public meetings, town planning applications, reports from residents’ associations and letters from readers.

The advertiser helped Mr. Carpenter set up EOA Books at 34 Cowley Road in 1971. The bookstore sold all kinds of publications not available in mainstream stores, on radical politics, feminism, gay rights, etc., and its back room housed community action group meetings. The store was a central part of the community, a meeting place and a source of ideas before the internet.

In 1982, Oxford City Council wanted a huge rent increase, so Mr Carpenter found Anthony Cheke and Ruth Ashcroft who started the Inner Bookstore, selling books on “mind, body and spirit” at the back of the store.

Sharing the premises allowed Mr Carpenter to devote more time to community action and, from 1979, inspired by the experience of the Oxford Ecology Movement in green policy, he became involved. passionate about green issues, becoming one of the main players in the new Ecology Party, now the Green Party.

In 1980 he created and published another newsletter – Greenfly – the Oxford ecological journal. In 1982, following a motion adopted at the Ecological Party conference, he took the initiative to create the Green Line magazine. Pre-computer, it was prepared, assembled and folded manually at his home helped by his family and friends.

As the first wave of alternative and radical politics faded under Thatcherism, Jon left EOA Books for The Inner Bookshop in 1988, and with his then-partner Sarah Tyzack (with whom he lived for over 20 years. ), moved to Finstock in the middle of the year. 1990s. He founded Jon Carpenter Publishing and Wychwood Press in Charlbury, publishing several books on the history and folklore of Oxfordshire, and also more broadly, on social issues.

In 2000, Mr. Carpenter opened Evenlode Books in a small 9 x 11 foot space on Charlbury Market Street. It was the very first bookstore in the city. He has become a cornerstone of the Charlbury community, which he misses a lot since his retirement in 2014.

In 2009 Jon and Sarah separated and he moved to live in Charlbury, giving his energy to the Charlbury Community Cinema, where he met Angela Gwatkin. They created and led the Charlbury Refugee Action Group and Extinction Rebellion Charlbury.

Motor neuron disease has increasingly restricted Mr Carpenter’s movement and speech over his past two years, cruelly timed with the added stress and social restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic. He died on June 9.

He is survived by his two children Ele and Ben, his grandchildren Dylan and Leo, and Angela, his companion for 12 years, who cared for him so deeply and with such commitment throughout his illness, allowing him to stay home until the end. – his first wish.

His life was celebrated at a secular funeral at the North Oxfordshire Crematorium on June 30.